Divorce is hard and stressful. Even if the couple mutually decides to end things, a part of them breaks into a thousand pieces. Because knowing that this is the end for them and their relationship. If you and your partner are separating and you’ve got kids, remember that divorce is as hard on them as it’s on you (or maybe more). Imagine a child having to choose between their mom and dad. No child should be made to go through that!
If you just got divorced and the court has granted joint child custody, your mind may be spiraling, thinking about how to make it work. The thought of staying in touch with your ex when you couldn’t stand being married to them is disturbing, but you’ve got to give your best. Divorce was about you, but custody is about your child, and you’ve got to make it work for them!
This blog lists 9 ways to make joint child custody work and ensure your divorce doesn’t affect your child too much.
1. Don’t Badmouth About Your Ex in Front of Your Child
You may be frustrated and angry at your ex, and it’s understandable. But if you want to make joint child custody work, you’ve got to make sure you don’t speak evil about your ex in front of your child. Children are very sensitive and take things to heart more than you know.
If a child feels they’ve got to be in any parent’s team, they may feel stressed. Stress is never good for health, especially at such a tender age. Your sentiments about your ex may get to your child, and they may refuse to spend any time with them, which will only make managing joint child custody difficult.
2. Make it About Your Child, Not Yourself
As we’ve said in the beginning, custody is about your child and not about you. To make joint child custody work, you’ve to be on the same page with your ex when it comes to your child. If your ex is suggesting something that you don’t agree with but is good for your child, you should go ahead with it. If your child wishes to spend time with both parents, both parents should keep their egos aside and fulfill their child’s wishes. You may not be partners, but you’re still parents to your child.
3. Don’t Get Carried Away with Emotions When Time Planning
Joint custody means your child will spend time with both parents and both parents will share responsibilities. You’ll co-parent your child. When your divorce is finalized, you may make unrealistic commitments because you want to let your ex down and show yourself as a more responsible and concerned parent. However, you may not be able to stick to your commitments in the long run.
When it comes to joint child custody, you’ve got to keep your emotions aside and plan things wisely and practically. The more practical the co-parenting plan is, the more successful it’ll be in the long run.
4. Communicate Effectively
If you think communicating with your ex after divorce will be as bad as it was when you were married, you might be mistaken. You two may not have gotten along well as partners, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get along as parents. Even if you find communicating with your ex about your child difficult, you’ve got to try your best to do it effectively for your child’s sake.
You don’t necessarily have to communicate with your ex over a call. You can always drop them a text or email. If your ex says something that triggers you and is against your ideals, you shouldn’t respond immediately. Take time to cool down, get a hold of yourself, and then respond professionally, as if you’re talking to a work colleague. You don’t have to get informal if you aren’t comfortable. The idea is to communicate effectively because any gaps here directly affect your child.
5. Plan Fair, Not Equal
You might want to share your child’s responsibilities equally, but remember that equal doesn’t always mean fair. If the parenting plan isn’t fair, joint child custody may not work for you in the long run. For example, if you decide that the child will spend equal time with both parents, let’s say 2 days with mom, 2 days with dad, and the cycle repeats, it may not be fair if one of the parents has to travel for work too often. If one parent has to travel frequently, the other parent should be okay with having their child spend more time with them.
Similarly, if your child’s baseball practice falls on a day when the mom is supposed to keep the child, but it had always been the dad taking the child to practice, parents should rework the plan to ensure things don’t change for the child.
6. Discuss Your Child on Parenting Dates
Your child should be your first concern after a divorce. No matter how much you despise your ex, you should plan parenting dates at least once a month to discuss your child’s progress and see how the child is behaving with each parent. It’ll help both parents understand their child’s behavior pattern, and they’ll be better able to ensure their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
7. Don’t Impose Your Rules on Your Ex
You may be a strict parent, but you can’t (and shouldn’t) expect your ex to be the same. The child is as much theirs as it’s yours, and they can decide how they want to go about with the child when the child is with them. You may put your child to bed at 8, but your partner may decide to take the child out for ice cream after dinner. You shouldn’t have a problem with that as long as your child is happy and their safety or health isn’t compromised.
8. Don’t Make Everything an Issue
People are often high on ego after divorce and tend to make an issue out of everything. They may have a problem with what their ex is feeding their child, where they’re taking them for outings, etc. Having a problem with everything will only make co-parenting more difficult for both parents.
There are some issues you don’t have to fight over, like food choices, as long as your ex isn’t feeding your child anything that’s harmful or dangerous for them. Issues like school choices, parenting time, and vacations are important, and you can fight over them. But if an issue doesn’t affect your child’s well-being and future, let it be.
9. Let Your Child Feel Heard
Divorce affects children tremendously, and many parents often overlook this fact. It’s important that you make your child feel heard. Let them share their concerns and emotions with you. It may be something as small as which toy they want to take to the other parent’s house or bigger things like who they want to spend the weekend with. Remember that your child has to be the center of any arrangements you make with your ex; therefore, your child’s say shouldn’t be overlooked.
You can make joint child custody work if you keep your ego and insecurities aside. As well as, make your child the center of your life. Just because things didn’t work out with your partner doesn’t make them bad parents.
Visit our legal blog Spirit One, for more information on family law and child custody so that you know what to expect in such cases.